Despite sitting within conservative-minded America’s Belt Bible, the last decade has seen a huge shift in public opinion, particularly in support of same-sex couples. The local circuit, linked closely to the music of jazz, ragtime, and blues, has cut their teeth with everyone from Tina Turner to Chuck Berry, making the city of Lou’ a prominent hub on the west bank of the mighty Mississippi River. There is no doubt that some of the laxest laws on alcohol consumption and sales in the US can be found in Missouri, specifically in St. Louis, allowing residents to let down their hair and enjoy themselves. Overall, the atmosphere in the Midwest American city is akin to the hospitality and warmth of the southern states’ Union, creating a unique blend of cultures.
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Photograph: Wil Stewart.
Many of the top gay bars in St. Louis can be found in the Grove district, located around Manchester Avenue between Forest Park and the Missouri Botanical Garden. One such establishment is JuJo’s, a nightclub that welcomes everyone from the trans and straight to the carefree and beautiful. With its glitzy and dark dance club interior, complete with a lively dance floor and plush leather sofas, JuJo’s offers a great party atmosphere. The club also features a large and enticing exterior terrace, perfect for chilling out before hitting the dance floor. In addition to its nightly roster of live music events and drink specials, JuJo’s maintains a small-town tavern feel in its bar-style sports interior. Just down the road is Club John, another popular spot for the local LGBT+ community. Both of these venues ensure that people can have a great time and feel welcome in the vibrant and diverse Midtown area.
Photograph: Michael Fenton.
Picture: Felipe Ponce.
This traditional ‘gentlemen’s’ bar has a loyal multi-generational customer base that ensures the billiard table is constantly occupied.
The nearby Rehab Bar & Grill, on the corner of Manchester Avenue and South Sarah Street, is one of the first (or last) gay St Louis bars that comprise the Grove district, depending on your direction of travel. Though a little harsher on the wallet than some of the other gay bars in St Louis, Rehab is still worth dropping by thanks to the amical bunch of guys behind the bar and the surprisingly mixed crowd of drinkers in front of it given it’s known as a rainbow flag-waving gay bar. A few hundred metres back east towards Midtown, JJ’s Clubhouse & Bar dates back some twenty years and probably hasn’t changed its décor since, but don’t let that put you off this all-American bear and leather club. This traditional ‘gentlemen’s’ bar has a loyal multi-generational customer base that ensures the billiard table is constantly occupied. while the large ceiling-mounted televisions screen live sports. Come the weekend, there’s the added bonus of the backroom club, complete with strobe lighting and live DJs.
Picture: Naitian Tony Wang.
There are numerous seating areas in both the back garden and the front of the establishment. Inside, there is a stunning bar top and plenty of captivating elements, such as barbie dolls and wall art. The clientele at Bastille consists of slightly older individuals who skillfully balance sophistication and boldness. They are more interested in enjoying delicious food and playing darts with their friends from the bar’s menu of popular drinks, rather than focusing on what others are wearing. This is evident from the early opening time for lunch and relatively early closing time of 1.30 am. Bastille is a gay bar with a relaxed and artistic decor that perfectly complements its overall atmosphere, making it a welcoming destination for visitors from the expanding gay community in the historic blues-infused Soulard neighborhood, which is located slightly further south. Keypers Piano Bar is situated at 2280 South Jefferson Avenue, on the corner plot between JJ’s Clubhouse and Bastille. This French-inspired chateau-like establishment primarily serves as a local bar, mainly attracting gay men of a certain age. It is located in a predominantly residential neighborhood. Keypers is a place where people can converse and sing underneath exquisite crystal chandeliers, rather than dance. On Fridays at around 5 pm, a talented pianist plays the bar’s piano, setting the tone for a lively happy hour, while on other nights of the week, the pianist starts playing at 9 pm.
Picture: Briana Tozour.
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